Florida’s election crimes unit looks into drop-box complaint

A voting drop box in Broward County that was alleged to have been left unattended in violation of Florida’s new election law was in fact properly monitored, the state concluded after an investigation.

The allegation was one of the first tests of Florida’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security, which was created in April and charged with investigating election crimes.

The complaint, which was raised to Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference on Thursday, centered around a photo on social media that claimed a drop box outside the Broward Supervisor of Election’s office in Fort Lauderdale was left unattended.

State law now requires these drop boxes, now referred to as secure intake stations, to be always be monitored by an elections official.

Mark Ard, a spokesman for the Florida Department of State, said Thursday they had been in contact with Broward Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott and that he “advised our office that the images taken and provided in the article do not show the full scale of scene in front of his office” and that an employee was sitting near the drop box.

The Office of Elections Crimes and Security corroborated that the supervisor’s office employee was “sitting near and monitoring the Secure Ballot Intake Station,” Ard said.

Broward Supervisor of Elections did not respond to a request for comment.

During Thursday morning’s news conference, DeSantis was asked about the complaint, which he said he was made aware earlier that morning, and pledged the state was looking into it. “We have in place the ability to investigate this stuff,” DeSantis said, highlighting the state’s new elections investigation unit. “That is being done.”

The state’s election investigation unit is run by Peter Antonacci, who served as Broward’s Supervisor of Elections from 2018-20 after being appointed to the position by then-Gov. Rick Scott. Antonacci, a Republican, was sent in to clean up Broward’s elections office after years of problems.

DeSantis appointed Antonacci to head the newly created elections investigation unit in July.

The allegation against the Broward elections office comes less than a week after it mistakenly mailed incorrect vote-by-mail ballots to more than 1,500 Broward voters. The error, which was caused by a computer glitch, has been corrected, a Broward County elections spokesman said earlier this week.

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